June 22, 2014

The Importance of Being Mentored- Part I

         Before I get on with the actual post,  here is a big shout out to two of my very own mentors +Sundaresan Mahadevan and +ankit bansal. If there's anything I know about architecture as a course or a profession and if I am a better human being today, it's because of these gentlemen who were patient enough to tolerate all of my strong opinions, gravest of mistakes and big ideas and gave me encouragement by the truck load. Thank you!

          All of us who are in a course that involves some creative field be it, art or architecture, are bound to learn little or nothing useful from our respective colleges, especially if we were not fortunate enough to attend a premier institution. It probably isn't our fault having to go to over-crowded classrooms with no actual classes going on. So, in short, everything I learnt by my third year at architecture school was from texts books and magazines borrowed from the department library after terrorizing the librarian and articles my mother would religiously point out to in the newspapers.
          Now I had no intention of finding a mentor and college offered no option, as there wasn't a single respectable professor who had any idea about subjects they were hired to teach or were they inclined to talk to students regarding anything else but attendance reports and deadlines. So there I was left groping in the dark.
         As fate would have it, I happened to intern in a hell hole of an architect's office in the city last July. As every new intern would be, I was excited as ever and always up to do work. But for an extremely highly rated firm in Chennai metro I seemed to find absolutely nothing productive to do. Perhaps it was just the timing. I soon figured out that this was an office charged by high levels of estrogen, huge egos and menopausal women with mid-life crises and by questioning the ethics of the system I had frowns thrown my way and I was banished to the corner of permanent oblivion. Once in a while I was allowed to leave my little corner and accompany the boss to 'meetings' and 'visits'. Now its at one of these meetings that I happened to meet my potential godfather. A classic fresher-in-college style hazing which left me temporarily scared for life did not stop me from liking this person any less. So after a lot of subtle conversations on national politics and boss-bashing, towards the end of my stint with the Devil in Prada, I decided to take this acquaintance forward. I found myself my first mentor. Almost a year later I find myself more focused and more confident of the future after all the constant nudging and pushing.

The Godfather's commandments:

  • Thou shall BE PUNCTUAL. Never make people wait. Time is precious and nobody likes to hang around an office for eons.
  • Thou shall DEFEND an opinion fiercely but gracefully.
  • Thou shall BE HONEST. Put the truth across without offending another individual.
  • Thou shall WORK hard for thy wants. 
  • Thou shall TAKE responsibility for errors committed.   

         In the meantime, I was fortunate enough to meet another career coach, during a brief stay at the capital city of Delhi, who obliged to guide a dissertation for college. This thirty something successful senior architect at an internationally acclaimed firm seemed to be everybody's living nightmare. But I chose to see the man for his accomplishments, discipline and keen eye for error. He wasn't so much of a father figure but a sort of yard stick to go by in the field. Although I was yelled at to a point I was close to tears numerous times, he was kind enough to plod through pages of text and data and systematically wrote down comments and helped me stay on track. I tended to meander off the topic every now and then. At the end of four months, I managed to put together a brilliant piece which was appreciated by the folks back at college. So, post this little experiment a lot of joint projects await in the near future.

A perfectionist's guide to success:

  • Focus. Focus. Focus.
  • Time and tide wait for no man.
  • Be dedicated and STAY dedicated.                            
        So having shared my personal experience with you this is the end of Part I. So before I wrap up this post ....on a very unrelated note I leave you one of the best teacher student moments - A clip from "The School of Rock".

If you liked Part I don't forget to leave a comment and hit share!!